We’re wrapping up a series on our Influence Ecosystem.
A quick refresher for those just joining in:
The influence ecosystem answers the question about who is responsible for creating and fostering engagement at every level of the organization.
Macro influence is the culture at the entire organization level, created by senior leaders.
Micro influence is the culture every leader creates inside their own team.
Now, let’s dive into the Meso influence factor - our third and final level of the Ecosystem.
This influence factor is our intervening layer in organizational cultures. The aspects of Meso influence are neither the sole cultural responsibility of senior leaders nor the individual managers, rather this level explores how each employee bonds with their job and other individuals.
How connected are individuals?
How effectively do teams work together?
Where are there silos and dropped communication among groups?
Do individual employees feel like they are challenged in their roles and can use their strengths regularly?
These important questions address whether individuals feel safe, connected, and energized at work. Twelve of our CultureID survey questions fall into the Meso level. In our global data, Meso is the highest scoring of our three influence factors.
That's not too surprising.
Our data shows that individual managers lead in ways that can create huge shifts in how engaged various teams are. In Micro influence, great leaders bring up the average and difficult leaders tend to bring it back down. What’s more consistent, and more positive overall, is the connection employees feel with one another and their own roles.
That said, there is always room for improvement. The Meso level survey question that gets the lowest scores, specifically for women, is “I’m consulted on decisions affecting my job or team.”
It's disengaging and discouraging when people feel like things happen to them instead of with them. We all want to have a voice, to feel like we are a part of something.
Employees, no matter their level, want to be a part of a process. They want to be a part of a solution. They don't want to have things constantly mandated to them.
Choice is a significant motivator for human beings. Choice creates buy-in and ownership, two important aspects of effective employees.
When your team feels looped into both big and small decisions, you increase transparency and send the important message that they are valued.
Most senior leaders are not going to go to their employees and ask, “What do you think we should do to succeed as a company?” It is the job of senior leadership to set the vision, strategic goals, and direction for the company. How can you engage your team to feel included in these overarching decisions?
Let employees help you answer the how. How can your strategic goals/plans/projects be accomplished? When you encourage and listen to employees' opinions, you signal that their voice matters.
Here are a few ways this can play out:
Solicit input in your one-on-one meetings with employees.
Talk about the direction and the goals of the team or the company. Give individuals a clear focus on the vision and future direction regularly. Then, tap into the employee's experience and thought process. Start drawing out their ideas with questions like, “How do you see this playing out?” “What are some barriers you can think of?” “How do you see yourself contributing to this goal?” “What can we do to help you use your strengths to accomplish these goals?”
Expand engagement through focus group conversations.
Pull employees from several different teams together. Each employee, based on their various roles and experiences, brings something different to the table that can help leaders explore new ideas, identify opportunities, and create action plans for your larger company or team goals. Cross-departmental brainstorming not only increases how valued employees feel, it also helps advance your strategic goals.
Engaging your employees brings an opportunity for acceleration that you can’t achieve on your own. Without looping employees into the conversation, your organization can start to stagnate.
Walk in their shoes.
One of the most telling ways to understand the employee experience is to enter into the stories of their employees. What does it look like to be in the warehouse sorting items? How does it feel to sit in a marketing team meeting?
It’s like the TV show Undercover Boss: these CEOs enter into the experience of their employees to better understand what their day-to-day looks like, what creates unnecessary headaches or slowdowns, and what ideas team members have for improvement.
While CEOs rarely have the space or time to attend these meetings and do this kind of ground-level work, what they can do is create open lines of communication from the lowest levels to the top so real input and collaborative decision making can happen.
The front-line employee often best understands the most significant pain points in the organization.
They know which machines are tough to work with. They know what the customers are asking for. If senior leaders don't create opportunities for conversation and consult employees on decisions that impact them daily, they will never create the kind of success in a company that they truly could have when they open the aperture and truly listen, learn, and act.
There is a lot of valuable information that your employees want to give you. They have a lot of thoughts about what it feels like to work in your company, and their voice is a gift to you.
We can help give you that understanding. We can give their voices a platform so you know how to connect with your people and truly help each person show up every day in an environment where they can work hard, contribute, and feel safe and connected inside the organization.
You don't have to lead in the dark.
That's what we're here to help you with.